Rocksalt Restaurant and Bar is a new destination restaurant in Folkestone Harbour and is the first restaurant venture for executive chef Mark Sargeant, former head chef at Claridge's. The restaurant is perched in the corner of the tidal harbour between a listed brick viaduct and cobbled street, the restaurant faces the former fish market.
Folkestone still boasts a small fishing fleet that off load catches on to the slipway directly adjacent to the restaurant, delivering the local freshest catch daily. The building sits on a curved sea wall and borrows back land which forms a wine cellar beneath the restaurant. On approach, the building reveals itself from under the brick arch of the viaduct and then gently peels away from the cobbled street to show the harbour beyond. Three curved walls, decreasing in height are clad in shot blasted black larch to echo the timber weatherboarding of the surrounding context. A light green slate plinth raises the building, giving elevated coastal views. A large window to the street allows sight into the working kitchen and reflects the working nature of the fish market. Angled reveals on picture windows puncture the main staircase landing and the ground floor bar, offering views back to the street. The slate steps leading to the entrance merge into public bench seating at the top of the jetty facing out to sea.
At ground floor level, the restaurant has 86 covers and the opportunity for a private dining room for twelve people. Large glass sliding doors allow uninterrupted panoramic views of the fishing boats at high tide and the sandy shingle flats at low tide. The sliding doors lead out on to a cantilevered balcony with a glass balustrade and curved zinc soffit - an extension of the curved ceiling. The first floor bar opens fully to an afternoon sun terrace which offers views over the harbour and English Channel beyond.
Liz Jeanes, lead interior designer at Guy Hollaway Architects led the interior scheme which has strong influences form the immediate context. The ceiling on the ground floor curves gently and reflects the harbour water below. The external cladding is brought into the building with dark strips of larch which line interior walls, and contrasting marble floors were influenced by a fishmonger's kitchen. The now completed scheme was won at national competition in November 2009, and completed in June 2011 for the Folkestone Triennial opening; it was delivered at a project value of £2.5M.